Supporting the local response to the climate emergency

Around a third of UK greenhouse gas emissions are within the power or influence of local authorities and their communities.

Through the deployment of data and digital services, mySociety is helping councils, community organisations, campaign groups and individual citizens to take faster, more informed and effective action to cut emissions at the local level.

Our Climate programme seeks to support engagement from citizens, action from local government, and better information for all.

Our current focus

We are running rapid prototyping weeks to help us decide, from a number of different possible climate focuses, which to take forward. Exploring potential solutions and inviting input from experts in each area, by the end of each week we produce a mock-up of what a finished project could look like – we then move on to the next focus.

When we’ve made six prototypes, we’ll decide which one/s to take forward, using everything we’ve learned. We’ve documented everything as we go along, so others can take up any good ideas that we don’t develop further ourselves.

How we’re working on Climate

Digital technologies can make it easier for everyone to examine, understand and participate in the ecosystem of local climate action. With the provision of high quality and up to date information about what’s happening locally and in other areas with similar contexts, and by delivering digital services that support coordination and engagement between communities and institutions, we can improve the ability of local actors to work together in the service of common goals.

Public participation to drive climate action 

By improving the local level knowledge of citizens and civil society, we’re enabling them to engage more effectively in democratic processes and create the political space for climate action.

Local government learning, action and innovation

By collecting and providing better data, we’re giving local governments the information they need to learn from and engage with each other, and fully involve their constituents in the development and implementation of more ambitious and effective climate policies.

The information ecosystem 

We’re improving the information ecosystem to allow local and national campaigns, policymakers and other stakeholders to undertake better scrutiny and analysis of local climate action, and develop evidence-based policies and solutions.

UK and international scaling

We’ll be sharing our approach, open source code and tools to kickstart a community of practice around climate action and civic technology that helps others around the world tackle the local civic and democratic challenges of climate action.

Who it’s for

Citizens and community groups who want to act locally on climate, but don’t necessarily know how to engage effectively with their local authority.

Climate organisations looking to coordinate nationally and campaign locally.

Decision-makers in local government developing and implementing mitigation and adaptation actions, and wanting to base their decisions on sound knowledge.

National government stakeholders needing to keep up with what’s happening locally, in order to better support this action with policy.

Academics, policymakers, journalists and others who need higher quality information in order to raise awareness of and evaluate the effectiveness of climate policies and actions, and promote solutions.

Civic technologists looking for a way to contribute their skills to tackling the climate crisis.

Partnerships and outreach

As well as working with key partners such as Climate Emergency UK, we’ll be looking to collaborate with and support the work of a diverse range of groups and networks active within local climate action. Some of the areas we’ll need help with are in testing early versions of services, reaching others who can benefit from our work, and feeding back on your needs.

Please keep an eye on the mySociety blog, or sign up to our newsletter, where you’ll be the first to hear when we’re ready to make contact.

Data for climate

CAPE: Climate Action Plans and more

Many local councils across the UK have declared a climate emergency, committing to taking action. But with Climate Action Plans in disparate locations, formats and states of completion, it was impossible for them to be compared or for their effectiveness to be assessed in aggregate. Nor could those councils who share similar challenges or demographics learn from one another.

That’s why we — with crowdsourced help — gathered together all the action plans we could find, and loaded them into CAPE, an online data explorer. It’s the first proof of concept that data can accelerate and facilitate action. Learn more about this project here – or sit back and watch our session at Net Zero Local.


CAPE tools, features and collaborations

A brightly coloured graph showing where carbon emissions for a single council come fromA page for every council 

Input a postcode (or let the site locate you) to find a council’s Climate Action Plan, plus other useful information such as the carbon pledge they’ve made, when they aim to achieve it, what their baseline emissions are and how these emissions break down into sectors.

A table of date from the Climate Action Plans Explorer, CAPEData 

CAPE also puts all the plans together, so you can search across them all, or pull out councils that have traits in common. It’s the first time this data has been available in aggregate, allowing plans to be studied and compared across the country as a whole.

A very basic API - ie some words on a white background with one input fieldAn API 

mySociety believes in the power of open data to drive innovation and allow for more useful research. The CAPE API is currently in a rudimentary state but we’ll be working it up as we go along, ensuring that you can query the database in the ways you need.

A pastel-coloured table showing councils and the percentages they achieved n the Climate Action Plans Scorecards projectCouncil Climate Plan Scorecards

Climate Emergency UK marked every council’s Climate Action Plan across nine categories for their Scorecards project, showing citizens and councils a way to benchmark how their plans stand up to the tasks ahead.

A table showing which councils are similar in population, deprivation, etcSimilar councils

Our algorithms twin councils with meaningful metrics such as where their emissions come from, where they sit on the index of deprivation, and how rural or urban they are – giving them the opportunity to learn from others who face the most similar challenges.

Browse by Feature page on CAPETagging 

From the Scorecards data we were able to identify which councils are strongest in which areas: now you can see these via our ‘Browse by feature’ page. Or navigate in from the other direction: tags on the strongest performing councils’ pages will link you to the other councils who did well in the same areas.


How to use CAPE:

Secondary impact

How our services help others to help the environment

mySociety’s services have always helped citizens speak truth to power, and that’s proving extremely useful in demanding action around the climate emergency.

From placing FOI requests to asking MPs what they’re doing, the tools are all in place for immediate use. Find out more.

A people’s assembly to advise Parliament

Climate Assembly UK

mySociety created the digital platform to support Climate Assembly UK — a citizens’ assembly commissioned by six House of Commons Select Committees.

The assembly looked at how the UK will reach its net zero emissions climate target by 2050, and recommended measures that can be put in place to help reduce carbon emissions.

Explore the assembly resources and outputs here.

Looking to ourselves

Our own climate response

  1. We’ve set up an internal Climate Action Group to research issues and bring recommendations to the wider organisation
  2. We’re cutting non-essential travel, and offsetting where travel is vital
  3. We’re incentivising staff to travel by land or sea for holidays
  4. We’re holding all suppliers to account to demand better environmental policies
  5. We’re extending the life of computer and server hardware
  6. And we’re sharing our journey as we research what makes a real difference, and what’s just greenwashing. See our developing environment policy.

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